November 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Collection: Bond Back in Action Music for the James Bond films: from Dr No to Diamonds are Forever.   New Digital recordings by The City of Prague Philharmonic conducted by Nic Raine.   SILVA SCREEN FILMCD 317 [74:14]

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The James Bond Theme
Dr No

From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever

The credentials of this 'Limited Edition' album are impeccable. Nic Raine (the conductor) often collaborates with Barry as orchestrator, Vic Flick IS the original guitar on the Bond theme and the truly splendid notes are by Graham Rye with an addition by James Fitzpatrick. This makes a nice complement to Silva's Essential James Bond CD (FILMCD 007) the review for which tags along here as a reminder. The present release is marked out also by a red-plastic jewel-case.

The Bond theme (Monty Norman) is suitably charcoal-squat in its insidiously murderous and metallic way. Most of the rest of the album is John Barry's handiwork and all pretty familiar. Well, I say familiar, but in fact these are not the tracks you will have heard in standard compilation albums. This album picks up all those little incidental details and much of it is atmosphere music with little in the way of thematic interest.

Dr No weaves the Bond theme into the repetitive atmospherics for various killings: of the Tarantula, of a guard and of Dr No. The score for From Russia with Love has that dizzying Bond magic and the main title is a laurel to which we owe thanks to Barry, Norman and Lionel Bart. The strings are lithely rich. The beat-generation and Caribbean local colour meets Lionel Hampton in The Golden Horn track. 007 Takes the Lektor with its slip-sliding strings and repeating brass car horn motif launches a driving confident string theme that here misses the sheeny perfection of the original. Gold Finger is represented by two tracks of which the second The Fort Knox Raid with its potent whirling premonitions and threats is by far the most memorable. Thunderball opens with a staggering virtual quote from Holst's trombone rush from The Perfect Fool but this is easily trounced by the sinuous seaweed slithering of the clarinet in the music for the underwater fight. Atmosphere music - yes - but such atmosphere.

You Only Live Twice (for me the Bond film par excellence) is represented by a 10 minute suite taking in the romantic Mountains and Sunsets and the mock Japanese Wedding Music. The music for the volcanic Valhalla that opens and closes the film is the very essence of Bond/Barry romanticism. The On Her Majesty's Secret Service score also has its moments including the seductive saxophone and harp and vibra solos for Bond Meets The Girls. After some pretty unremarkable music the final Diamonds are Forever name-track is soaringly romantic - a real high note on which to end. Barry certainly knows where to quarry good tunes. Try also the love them from his 1970s King Kong score if you get a chance.

The sound quality is superb, open and richly dressed - such a change from the claustrophobics of the OST albums. A number (11) of these tracks or part tracks are here recorded for the first time making this all the more of a must buy. For Bond's-men and Bond's-women this is another must-buy.

The more general listener may not find this a totally compelling purchase but there is much to enjoy here and the recapture is made all the more pleasurable experience by the loving performances and recordings.


Rob Barnett

And Ian Lace adds:

I am now making a snack of the words I uttered on this site two or three months ago when I asserted my distaste for the music of John Barry for I will admit to a sneaking liking for a lot of his music for the James Bond films.

This is an album to treasure for it includes some previously unreleased material. Like ‘The Zagreb Express’ cue from From Russia With Love that is a vivid evocation of a speeding train you can really visualise those wheels screeching along the track. Understandably, we cannot have the songs, a pity one shudders with pleasure at the thought of Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever and wasn’t Louis Armstrong’s vocal We Have All the Time in the World absolute magic – a glorious song.

Inevitably one is drawn to comparisons with the established discs and I listened to the old United Artists 10th anniversary double LP of most of these tracks. Today’s sound is much better of course and all the splendid instrumental colour of ‘Capsule in Space’, from You Only Live Twice is fully revealed. It sounds great here with its percussion in wide perspectives and those lovely fluttering harp figures. From the same score, Mountains and Sunsets is another fine romantic evocation of a twilit Chinese landscape.

I was disappointed in this latest version of the scintillating and exuberant ‘Golden Horn’ music from From Russia With Love, the old LP had far more zest, you felt the players were enjoying themselves much more. Of the other new additions I was thrilled by the headlong excitement of ‘Escape from Piz Gloria and the Ski Chase’ from the George Lazenby Bond outing. The slinky, sexy number ‘Into Miami’ and the warmer more romantic yet shadowy ‘Alpine Drive’ cues from Goldfinger, although not new, impressed me too.

With its distinctive red packaging and its Special Limited Edition promise, all Bond and Barry fans should not hesitate about snapping this one up.


Ian Lace


Rob Barnett

Ian Lace

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